Equality and Diversity

It is our ambition in the School of Physics and Astronomy that this shall be a fair and equitable place to work and study for all, regardless of any distinguishing characteristics (such as gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, disability etc.).  For this reason, we make serious efforts to change and improve practices or structures that may have historically disadvantaged some in our School or in Physics, Astronomy and Science in general. 

Whilst the greatest focus of our work to date has been focussed on gender equality , we recognise that this work towards promoting an equitable environment is also beneficial to members of other groups who have historically been discriminated against in society.  

The University is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion and we seek to provide a welcoming and fair environment for LBGTQ+ students and staff.

The University is working towards increased racial diversity and making itself a good environment for BAME students and staff.  Further resources for students and staff may be accessed from the Equality and Diversity unit.

The University is committed to supporting disabled staff and students, and further information can be found through the Disability Service.

Policies and resources to promote equality or relevant to equality

The school and the university have a range of policies to promote and support our efforts to make this a more equitable place to work and study, these include policies and information on:

Awards and Certification - Project Juno and Athena SWAN

‌  The School of Physics and Astronomy is committed to providing an equitable environment for study and work, in line with the principles of Project Juno of the Institute of Physics.  Specifically, we seek to ensure that we provide an environment in which women and men can thrive at all study, career and life stages.  Our commitment was recognised in October 2011 by the award of Juno Champion status, and further recognised by the award of an Athena SWAN Silver award in 2013 (which was re-awarded in October 2016 and recently again in October 2018), in view of positive steps taken in this direction.  We were especially heartened that our Juno Champion status was reconfirmed in January 2015, renewed again in August 2018, and has been confirmed again recently in August 2023.  Our current priorities and planned activities may be seen in our Action Plan 2023.

Introduction to recent progress in gender equality

We are delighted that there are women at all levels of the school, from a significant percentage of our undergraduate classes, through to several Professors.  There has been major progress over the past years in increasing our fraction of female academic staff.  Nevertheless, we recognise that there is still a long journey ahead before we have the levels of gender equality in our school that are seen in some other countries.  One key point in working towards equal opportunities is to recognise the current issues, and an important tool in this is to maintain reliable statistics of gender balance at all career stages, and to make these publically available.  We have records for this going back about 15-20 years, and these are summarised below and on the succeeding pages.

Our undergraduate intake has typically consists of about 20-25% women up until 2013, and this ratio varied little throughout all classes through to graduation.  There has been a recent jump in the proportion of women entering physics and astronomy since 2014, and this is discussed in more detail on our page on .

Female percentage in Physics and Astronomy 1

Further analysis of our progress in gender equality since 1998 is detailed on other pages (linked from the left hand menu bar), providing more detail for specific groups of students and staff.

Contacts with responsibility in the area of Equality and Diversity

Juno Committee

The Juno Committee that oversees all actions on equality issues in the school is led by Dr Sarah Croke and also consists of:

Dr Lydia Bach
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Ms Celine Beck
PGR Student

Dr David Boldrin
Research Associate

Ms Mara Dougall
Student Support Officer

Katie Farrell
Senior Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy Adviser

Prof Sonja Franke-Arnold
Professor of Optics

Dr Norman Gray
Research Associate / IT Support

Dr Ian MacLaren
Reader in Solid State Physics

Dr Caroline Muellenbroich
Lecturer in Imaging Concepts

Ms Lauren Muir
PGR Student

Claire Neilan
Technical Support

Dr Peter Sneddon
Senior Lecturer

Dr Fiona Speirits
Lecturer in Quantum Theory

Dr Karl Toland
Research Associate


Equality & Diversity Officers

The School currently has three EDI Officers, Angela EdenFiona Grant and Dr Jonathan Taylor, as well as a Student Support Officer, Mara Dougall. Part of the officers’ role is to provide a confidential service of advice and guidance to staff and students regarding any of them in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact them.